Chicago airports restrict terminal access to ticketed passengers, employees

A worker walks through a baggage claim area at a nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport on April 2, 2020 in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Chicago’s airports will start restricting nightly access to ticketed passengers and airport employees to ensure “safety and security” amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Friday night, access to the terminals and O’Hare and Midway will be limited to ticketed passengers, those assisting passengers, badged employees, and others with “legitimate airport business,” according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The aviation department and Chicago police will set up nightly checkpoints at the airports’ CTA stops, officials said. Travelers must show proof that they’re flying that day, while employees will be required to show their badge or ID.

Officials said the restrictions are meant “to ensure the safety and security of our valued passengers and employees.”

There are currently no plans for daytime checkpoints, but the aviation department said security officials or police may still ask to see travelers’ credentials at any time.

In May, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on an influx of homeless people finding refuge in airports during the COVID-19 epidemic. A spokesman for the CDA said the influx was something all airports are confronting.

The city runs an outreach facility at O’Hare, Haymarket Center, that connects the homeless and others in need to appropriate services.

Officials said similar restrictions at airports have been recently implemented in Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, Newark and Philadelphia.